Michigan Democrats Resist Audit

The Michigan state chair of the Democratic Party called demands from the DNC for an audit of campaign funds a political tactic designed to “tarnish” one of Howard Dean’s main opponents in the race for the DNC chair. Mark Brewer refused to conduct an audit on the $8 million in question:

The DNC has demanded an audit of the state party’s books because its donors want to know where the money went. The request has been turned down, with Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer arguing that an audit is unnecessary.
“We don’t see a need for it. But we’re happy to answer any questions that they may have,” Brewer said. “There was nothing wrong that was done. That’s why there was no need for an audit.”
Brewer said the complaints against him are really an attempt to tarnish the Michigan director of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Donnie Fowler, in his campaign for DNC chairman.
“It’s my belief that this is nothing more than a smear against Donnie Fowler, and the only reason this is being raised is because he’s become a candidate for DNC chair,” Brewer said. “If this was such an important issue, why did we not hear about it for over two and a half months, until Donnie becomes a serious candidate for DNC chair?”

While Brewer probably has analyzed the demands correctly, he doesn’t have much standing to refuse an audit. In the first place, a post-election audit sounds like a good idea anyway, something each state should do on its own just to verify its assets and liabilities and to ensure that money didn’t walk away. Additionally, reports of irregularities popped up in Michigan during the campaign, if not in the funding, then in the performance of the Michigan campaign. It eked out a narrow victory for Kerry where the party felt he should have cake-walked, especially given the large union and Arab populations in the state.
On the other hand, the Democrats have to ask themselves if they want to alienate the Michigan voters this badly and baldly. The Democrats can hardly afford this kind of internecine warfare after losing three election cycles in a row and finding themselves shut out of power entirely for at least the next two years. Making their own people out to be crooks simply to get Howard Dean elected as DNC chair redefines the term “self-defeating” and takes it to a new level.
Up to this election, Michigan had been a power base for Democrats. If the DNC plans to continue the implication that their state organization there is under the control of crooks, they’d better be proven right, or they will find no one at home in 2006. They have to defend Debbie Stabenow’s Senate seat, which has appeared safe until the DNC went to war with their Michigan subsidiary. Is Howard Dean worth this kind of effort and damage?

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